Scenes from four historic properties in Wrightsville Sound, composed and painted on site by plein air painters, were on display at the Latimer House June 30.
Heather van Fossen, volunteer program coordinator with the Historical Society of the Lower Cape Fear, organized a group of 19 local painters and secured access to the sites. The resulting 63 works of art were compiled and exhibited at the show.
Van Fossen said this is the second plein air art show the historical society has organized. In 2013, painters gathered at the Latimer House, where models in period dress posed in the garden. This year, the group wanted to reach into the community.
“We wanted to do something different so I was able to find some people with the connections to get access to historic areas of Wrightsville Sound that no one gets to see,” van Fossen said.
The painters took six trips to four sites: the Beane farm on Airlie Road and the Sweeny property on Summer Rest Road twice each, plus the Russell property on Bradley Creek Point Road and Mt. Lebanon Chapel.
Ann Hair, one of the plein air painters who participated, said the opportunity to visit those areas was one of her favorite parts of the experience.
“Normally, you would not be invited to places like that. Being allowed to go to these beautiful properties, that the homeowners allowed us to do that, was a real treat,” Hair said.
The painters had three hours at each site to set up, compose and paint a picture. While Hair listed weather and bugs as two notable obstacles plein air painters face, van Fossen suggested changing light and time constraints as main difficulties.
Painters were allowed to touch up work after each session, but paintings needed to be essentially complete at the end of each three-hour session.
Hair has been a plein air painter for years. Her first plein air workshop took place at Wrightsville Beach but the passion has landed her many places over the years, including Niagara Falls and Europe. She often organizes trips through email correspondence with a group of other plein air painters, many of whom participated in the Wrightsville Sound sessions.
Even though van Fossen is not an artist, she said the opportunity to experience the artists’ camaraderie was the most rewarding part of the event.
“It was fun. I just liked to go and see everybody and watch everybody paint,” she said.
Attendees voted for a people’s choice award, which went to Cheryl McGraw for her painting “Summer Rest Road, the Porch.”
After the art show and reception at Latimer House, the paintings will be split up, some moving to Dixie Grill and others finding a home at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.